Burned Palm Springs Church Gets New Life as Hotel

5.21.2014

By Neal Broverman

Palm Springs will get an unlikely new hotel in the form of a historic church.

The Community Church of Palm Springs will rise from the ashes and become the centerpiece of a new 89-room hotel.

The church, designed and built in the 1930s, was severely damaged in a September 2013 fire that followed in the wake of several nearby arsons. The shell of the church remains intact though, and a developer plans to combine it with a nearby hotel and turn it into the Orchid Tree Resort and Spa. The spa would be located underneath the church's spire, while 10 historic Spanish revival bungalows already on the site will be included in the hotel plans.

The church was designed by architect Charles Tanner and named a historic site by the city of Palm Springs in 1989; President and Mrs. Eisenhower worshipped in the church in 1954.

The preservation efforts of the church reflect a growing interest in maintaining Palm Springs' early- and mid-century structures. The city's architecture — and events like Modernism Week — bring a different set of tourists than those who come into town for, say, Coachella or the White Party.

"[The architecture] attracts a sophisticated, international sort of visitor," Tracy Conrad, a former member of the Palm Springs Preservation Board, told the Desert Sun.

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